WHS partners with Children’s on local Express Care center

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The old emergency department at Washington Hospital has been refashioned into a new emergency department – of sorts.


It will serve young people in distress, to whom a scuffed knee is often an emergency.


Washington Health System announced Monday morning it partnered with Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh of UPMC to open Children’s Express Care. It will be in Washington Hospital’s former emergency room, which has been unused since the ER was relocated in 2009.


Express Care will launch at 5 p.m. today, and will be open from 5 to 9 weeknights and noon to 8 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays – when pediatrician and family physician offices usually are closed. Appointments are not necessary, on-site parking is free and most health insurances are accepted.


Oh, and as traumatic as a bee sting may be to a 6-year-old, that is on a lengthy list of minor illnesses and injuries the center will treat.


This is not a groundbreaking partnership for Washington Hospital, which is independently governed. It has joined forces with other health networks on initiatives such as its cancer treatment center with UPMC and cardiology fellowship with Allegheny General Hospital.


Gary Weinstein, president and chief executive officer, said despite being independent, WHS is “always looking for ways to expand services for the community.”


He said the sides initiated partnership talks “eight or nine months ago,” and the route to completion “is relatively quick in hospital terms.”


Weinstein said Children’s – based in the Lawrenceville section of Pittsburgh – will operate the local Express Care, but will rent from Washington. Pediatricians from both hospitals will staff it.


One of them, Michael Faust, will coordinate the center, which will be convenient for Washington area residents during nontraditional medical office hours. “A lot of our patients will appreciate having this closer to town,” said Faust, who works at Washington Hospital and has an office in the nearby Wellness Center complex.


Initially, Weinstein said, Washington will have one physician tending to patients but will schedule two or even three if demand proves to be heavy. A doctor, on average, can handle 15 patients in two hours.


Express Care will feature receptionists’ desks and a waiting area immediately upon entrance, lab and X-ray services, and six exam rooms, each painted in a child-comforting colors, including lavender, yellow and orange.


And if the area looks fairly familiar, well, it should. This was the ER five years ago. “We did not repurpose it (after the emergency area was moved),” Weinstein said. “We were kind of waiting for the right thing here.”


Kathy Guatteri believes this is the right thing. “We thought the location of this facility, next to the emergency room, is great,” said the vice president of outpatient services at Children’s.


“The location and access and level of services make this a great opportunity for the hospital and the community.”


Guatteri, also president of Children’s Community Pediatrics, said this is the sixth Express Care center – but first with an independent hospital. The others are at UPMC facilities in Allegheny County: Bethel Park, Lawrenceville, Monroeville, West Mifflin and Wexford.


Each site, she said, has a board-certified pediatrician.


“We have a very high level of satisfaction from parents.”


That is probably related, at least in part, to the centers’ dedication to living up to their name.


“We try to limit a visit to 60 minutes – from coming through the door,” Guatteri said.


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